J.N. Campbell’s NTRA Thoroughbred Poll Submissions: Week 9

Week 9 of J.N. Campbell's NTRA submission to the Top Thoroughbred Polls is here...
Week 9 of J.N. Campbell's NTRA submission to the Top Thoroughbred Polls is here...

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The National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Top Thoroughbred and Top 3-Year-Old Categories are determined by weekly polls of the nation’s leading writers and broadcasters that regularly cover the sport. Eligible media cast our votes for their top 10 horses, with points awarded on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

The NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll is conducted weekly from February through the Monday following the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The NTRA Top 3-Year-Old Poll is conducted weekly from February through the Monday following the Belmont Stakes, which concludes the Triple Crown Trail.

As a member of the turfwriting media, I will be posting my weekly contributions, and offering editorials about horses that rise or fall in the polls. You can look for a full list of the Polls at the following NTRA website. It should make for another exciting season of Thoroughbred racing in North America!

Here is my 9th submission for this week’s Polls…

3-Year-Old Poll

1. ESSENTIAL QUALITY: In the Blue Grass Stakes (G2), this Tapit colt was faced with a challenging situation… a long speed coupled with an uncontested pace… Jockey Saez solved it when he found one more gear for the win; that effort cemented “EQ’s” place as the Kentucky Derby favorite…

2. HOT ROD CHARLIE: Doug O’Neill-trainee, who was exceptional in the LA Derby (G2); his ability to ship, run longer, and putting a target out there, are all part of a Derby recipe; O’Neill is heading back to CD, again…

3. KNOWN AGENDA: St. Elias Stable has won some G1 races, but nothing compares to homebred Known Agenda’s score in the FLA Derby (G1); Todd Pletcher is going back to Churchill, along with some other T. Pletch surprises, after that signature win; list climber based on that effort…

4. HIGHLY MOTIVATED: Chad Brown’s colt was well-backed against Essential Quality in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) over the weekend; he didn’t disappoint for Klaravich Stables going around 2-turns for the first time; coming into the KYD, looks to be a Top-5 choice… more to do though…

5. ROCK YOUR WORLD: This turf-only colt converted to the dirt well for trainer John Sadler, and won the SA Derby (G1) in amazing fashion with Umberto Rispoli; comes to the Top Ten with much promise, but little experience; can he get the KYD distance of 1¼, will be the question…

6. TRAVEL COLUMN: this filly is the lone female on my list; she exhibited strong acceleration in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) putting away a rival; she is well-bred out of Frosted, and trainer Brad Cox has brought her along to be ready to handle the KY Oaks (G1); could Cox have a Derby-Oaks double? Hmm… 

7. SUPER STOCK: At 12/1, this colt who is co-owned by Steve Asmussen’s father, Keith, ended up being very game in the stretch in the Arkansas Derby (G1) against the heavily favored Baffert runner, Concert Tour; this colt rebuffed the critics, and looks like an interesting hopeful for the Starting Gate in less than 3 weeks…

8. MIDNIGHT BOURBON: Winchell Thoroughbreds and Asmussen have a consistent entry for the KYD, who will make the gate after his performance in the LA Derby (G2), running 2nd to Hot Rod Charlie. He has power and stability for a HOF trainer and accomplished barn…

9. CONCERT TOUR: Did not impress in the Arkansas Derby (G1), after romping for Baffert in the Rebel Stakes (G2); this colt vaulted forward with a 4+-length win, but on Saturday could not keep pace with Super Stock or Caddo River; concerning with 3 weeks left until the KYD147…

10. MEDINA SPIRIT: What an absolute failure in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on Saturday… Baffert’s colt was supposed offer a punctuating stamp on his Derby March; coronation cancelled, and even though he was 2nd to Rock Your World, one has to question his ability going into the KYD147; begrudgingly remains on the list…

Summary: The KYD147 Prep Trail is now closed . . . Now, it is time to shift gears, as the field begins to take shape. Without any further races, we are entering a 3-week space where anything goes. Workouts will be scrutinized, and conjectures will be aplenty. This past weekend in Hot Springs, the Arkansas Derby (G1) was not won by heavy favorite, Concert Tour, but rather Steve Asmussen’s Super Stock. That vaulted the colt into the Derby with what was essentially an automatic bid. On the surface, it appears that Bob Baffert’s hand is not as strong as many believed. Most pro-Baffert backers will be unmoved and argue that Concert Tour did not have to “win.” That’s true . . . but it is not the reality. You want to peaking at the right time, and all of the HOF trainer’s possible entries look pretty weak. I continue to include Cox’s Travel Column because she is the class of the 3-yr-old fillies division, and clearly deserves to be among the top Thoroughbred of age on this list.    

Kentucky Derby Odds

Top Thoroughbred Poll

1. MONOMOY GIRL: solidified her spot at the top of the heap with a strong performance in the Bayakoa S. (G3) @OP to kick off her Spendthrift/MyRacehorse career; next will be a major challenge in the OP Apple Blossom (G1)

2. MYSTIC GUIDE: stellar performance in the Razorback (G3) @OP led to shipping into Meydan for the Dubai World Cup (G1), which he won convincingly for Mike Stidham; awfully good performance, but I would like to see him against an even better field, then he could take the top spot in the Rankings…

3. SWISS SKYDIVER: Team Callahan-McPeek-Albarado shipped out for this filly’s 1st start of 2021, and she smoked the field in the Beholder (G1); now bigger, stronger, and more muscular, she is poised for a march back to the BC; rematch coming… Monomoy v. Skydiver II in the Apple Blossom (G1) @OP

4. COLONEL LIAM: lived up to the hype in the Muniz Mem. (G2) @FG by rolling down the turf and just obliterating a nice field; Pletcher has what might be his greatest turf horse since English Channel with 2 major wins in 2021

5. CHARLATAN: Bob Baffert’s newly-minted 4-yr-old was the Saudi Cup (G1) favorite, and he failed to secure the win against John Gosden’s Mishriff. At such a short price, HOF jockey Mike Smith fouled out, and used most of gas too early. Still, Charlatan remains a top BC Classic contender… 

6. SHEDARESTHEDEVIL: she was super sharp coming off the bench @OP in the Azeri (G2) against a small, but strong field that included rival Letruska; Brad Cox’s tactics to go to the lead made the difference; Grade 1, $500,000 La Troienne @CD on April 30 is next…

7. KNICKS GO: The front-running speedster was challenged by Charlatan early in the Saudi Cup (G1) and he folded. No doubt we will see him down the road, as the season develops. Maybe getting back to Keeneland for the April Meet will be a smart plan?

8. EXTRAVAGENT KID: Brendan Walsh’s turf sprinter finally broke into the Poll with a magnificent win in the AL Quoz Sprint in Dubai over a week ago. After running in States-side contests, and missing on several occasions, this son of Kiss The Kid bested Charlie Appleby’s prize burner—Space Blues; will be interesting to see where he appears next…

9. MAXFIELD: even though the Big ‘Cap (G1) @SA did not yield a win, “Max” still remains relevant to this poll; shipping into that race was extremely tough, so heading back East for Walsh seems in order

10. RAGING BULL: What a nice win in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) this past week at Keeneland after 2 previous misses; the Chad Brown veteran came off the bench, and exhibited a strong turn-of-foot down the lane to win a race his connections have chased for some time; nice way to start 2021, to say the least…

Summary: This week’s Poll appears unmoved, as we wait for the classic match-up that is slated for next Saturday in the Apple Blossom (G1) at Oaklawn Park. Monomoy Girl will square off against Swiss Skydiver, and we are hoping for a titanic race. Once the dust settles, we should know who is one of the top Thoroughbreds in all of North America. With Derby Week coming, we will have some major contests that should also mix everything up. Meets like Laurel Park will have some of their big days, and of course, Belmont Park and Churchill Downs will also come online. As for any new additions to this list, I was impressed by Raging Bull’s effort at Keeneland in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1). He will be a major cog in the turf mile division for trainer Chad Brown.

Breeders' Cup Classic Odds

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